By: Daniel J. Cody and Marketplace Magazine.

According to recent studies, the number of e-commerce sites on the Internet is growing at an exponential rate. Indeed it seems like everyone is getting in on the game; where companies such as Amazon.com had zero competition even 15 months ago, they now face a growing number of companies that want a piece of the action. Even in the face of fierce competition, Amazon.com continues to be the number one book seller on the Internet.

So what is Amazon.com's secret? How does it and companies like it continue to dominate in the rough and tumble world of e-commerce? Is it some hot-shot PR firm, millions spent on advertising, or some amazing technical superiority that keeps them on top? Well, actually, it's none of those.

Amazon.com and successful e-commerce sites like it know the secret to staying on top, or even getting to the top in some cases, is in providing a rich end-user experience and earning the customers trust by providing them with a hassle free, secure, and supportive purchasing experience. Even if the customer only used your Web site to gain information on a product for a later purchase, you've still won the trust of a customer who will more than likely to return to you in the future for more information, or perhaps a purchase.

Sure it sounds easy enough to say that your e-commerce site is going to provide a rich end-user experience, but how do you really make that happen? What's the secret to getting customers to come back to you, instead of your competitor, when the time comes for their next online purchase? Here are some of the traits of successful e-commerce sites:

The last point about answering email turns out to be one of the major complaints consumers have against Web sites today. We all know it ourselves from personal bad experiences that it's true! How many times have you personally gone back to buy something from an e-commerce site that didn't answer your email in a reasonable amount of time(Or at all!). It also exemplifies exactly what companies like Amazon.com and e-Toys.com are doing so perfectly right.

Even if a particular e-commerce site is doing everything right, it's not always plain as day to see and mimic. Conversely, there are practices in use on some Web sites that are an instant turn off to viewers and potential customers. Here is a list of things to do and not do on your Web site.

Running a successful e-commerce site like e-Toys.com or Amazon.com isn't always as easy as it looks upon first inspection. By keeping in mind what the customer wants from you and your e-commerce site, building a faithful and happy customer base can be as easy as "ApplePie.com".